Topic: Infrastructure Development
IN NEWS: The Karnataka Government has submitted a detailed project report (DPR) of the Mekedatu project to the Central Water Commission (CWC). As per the DPR, the total project cost will be the Rs 5,900 crore.
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- The DPR will be placed before the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and after its approval, will be brought before the Advisory Committee of the Union Ministry of Water Resources.
- The DPR will be examined in specialised directorates of CWC including the Inter-State Matters Directorate, and if found acceptable, will be submitted to the Advisory Committee of Irrigation and Multipurpose Projects of the Ministry of Water Resources, for acceptance.
- On the basis of the note prepared by CWC and deliberations during the meeting of the Advisory Committee, a decision on acceptance of the project will be taken.
- Tamil Nadu has been vehemently opposing the project and the CWC’s decision to grant permission for Karnataka to prepare the DPR.
- Proposed reservoir violates the decisions of the Supreme Court and the Cauvery Tribunal. The Supreme Court had noted that the existing storage in the Cauvery basin of Karnataka should be taken into account for ensuring water releases to Tamil Nadu during the period of June to January.
- The centre says that the DPR submitted by Karnataka was subject to the amicable resolution of connected inter-State matters. However, Kerala, referring to the Guidelines of Submission, Appraisal and Acceptance of Irrigation and Multipurpose Project of 2017, argued that inter-State aspects had to be dealt with even at the stage of preparing the pre-feasibility report on the project.
- Being set up by the Karnataka government, the project is near Mekedatu, in Ramanagaram district, across the river Cauvery from Tamil Nadu. Its primary objective is to supply drinking water to Bengaluru and recharge the groundwater table in the region.
Topic: International Relations
IN NEWS: Russia unveiled a missile system that Washington claims is in violation of a key arms control treaty, in a last-minute bid to counter US criticism and save the Soviet-era agreement.
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- President Donald Trump has threatened to walk away from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF), with Washington claiming that Russia’s 9M729 ‘Iskander’ ground-based missile system violates the deal.
- Moscow has repeatedly denied the system contravenes the treaty.
- Russian defence and foreign ministry officials insisted the range of the missile system was allowed under the agreement.
About INF Treaty:
- The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty required the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
- The treaty marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals, eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons, and utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification.
- As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of June 1, 1991.
Cabinet gives nod to set up GST Appellate Tribunal
In news: The Union Cabinet approved the creation of a National Bench of the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT), which would serve as the forum of second appeals to do with the applicability of GST, and will also be the first common forum of dispute resolution between the Centre and the States.
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- The National Bench of the Appellate Tribunal, to be situated in New Delhi, will be presided over by its president. It will consist of a technical member from the Centre and a representative of the States.
- Assessment would be done by people below the rank of Commissioner, and the appeals would be with the Commissioner. The Commissioner (Appeals) could then go to the Tribunal.
- Chapter XVIII of the CGST Act provides for an appeal and review mechanism for dispute resolution under the GST regime.
- Section 109 of this chapter empowers the Centre to constitute, on the recommendation of the GST Council, an appellate tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by the Appellate Authority.
Source: The Hindu
Northeast autonomous council
Topic: Polity and Governance
In news: The Union Cabinet approved a Constitutional amendment to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 autonomous councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the northeast.
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- The amendment would impact a population of about 1 crore tribal living in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to the Centre.
- The Finance Commission would be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to the councils.
- Till now, the autonomous councils have depended on grants from Central Ministries and the State governments for specific projects.
- As per the proposed amendment, at least one third of the seats would be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.
- The amendment also provides for transfer of additional 30 subjects including departments of Public Works, Forests, Public Health Engineering, Health and Family Welfare, Urban Development and Food and Civil Supply to Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council in Assam.
- The proposed amendments provide for elected village municipal councils, ensuring democracy at the grass-roots level.
- The village councils would be empowered to prepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
- The State Election Commissions would hold elections to the autonomous councils, village and municipal councils in the areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura. There would be a provision for anti-defection too.
- Meghalaya has for the time being opted out of the provision for elected village and municipal councils and one-third reservation for women.
About Autonomous District Councils:
- There were several autonomous administrative divisions of India to which the central government has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature. The establishment and functions of most of these autonomous councils are based on the sixth schedule to the Constitution of India
India conducts ‘largest coastal security drill
Topic: Internal Security
In news: Ten years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, India conducted its largest coastal defence drill, Exercise Sea Vigil, to test its preparedness along the entire 7,516.6 km-long-coastline and exclusive economic zone of the country.
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- Exercise Sea Vigil aims to comprehensively and holistically validate the efficacy of the measures taken since 26/11. It aims to simultaneously activate the coastal security mechanism across all 13 coastal States and Union Territories.
- This involves the evaluation of critical areas and processes, including inter-agency coordination, information sharing and technical surveillance.
- Multi agency audit and identification of gaps, shortfalls and incorporation of lessons learnt into Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are also the desired outcomes.
- Post 26/11, the Navy was designated as the agency responsible for overall maritime security, including offshore and coastal security, while the Coast Guard was designated as the agency responsible for coastal security in territorial waters.
- A multi-tiered patrol and surveillance mechanism with focus on technical surveillance and augmenting Maritime Domain Awareness through the coastal radar chain was adopted.
- Progress has been made in real-time information sharing through the National Command Control Communication and Intelligence (NC3I) Network and improving intelligence and operational coordination.
Deendayal Hastkala Sankul
Topic: Government Policies
In news: The Prime Minister inaugurated Centres of Excellence at Deen Dayal Hastkala Sankul in Varanasi, Uttra Pradesh.
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- It is a trade facilitation centre for handicrafts.
- It aims to facilitate weavers, artisans and exporters in promoting handlooms and handicrafts.
- The Crafts Museum in the Sankul will preserve the traditional handloom/handicrafts products of Varanasi.
- It will also showcase the handloom & handicraft products, which will be an inspiration for the new generation, scholars, designers and tourists.
- The Finance Minister in the Budget 2014-15 had announced setting up of a Trade Facilitation Centre and a Crafts Museum to develop and promote handlooms, handicrafts and silk products of Varanasi.
Extinction risk for coffee species
In news: A new study has found that 60% all coffee species are at the risk of extinction from disease, climate change, and the loss of suitable space to grow coffee.
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- The species at risk include Arabica, the most widely consumed coffee variety in the world.
- Arabica alone accounts for 60% of world coffee trade, and Robusta for the remaining 40%.
- Given the threat, other coffee species are likely to be required for coffee crop plant development.
- There are two optimal growing climates for Arabic coffee bean.The subtropical regions-at high altitudes of 16-24° Rainy and dry seasons must be well defined, and altitude must be between 1800-3600 feet.
- The equatorial regions at latitudes lower than 10° and altitudes of 3600-6300 feet
- Robusta coffee is grown at much lower altitudes (sea level-3000 feet) in an area 10° North and South of the equator.
- It is much more tolerant to warm conditions than Arabica coffee.